Rafa Benitez has taken time out to visit Newcastle’s young stars at the Academy, to see what kind of talent there is coming through, as well as the facilities they have available.

With only 54 days until the end of the season and everybody finding out the first team’s fate, it is at least encouraging that Rafa is still hopefully looking towards a longer term future at Newcastle than the next couple of months.

It is only 12 days since Rafa Benitez swept in and brought hope to everybody that survival and the chance of a brighter future was possible.

Mike Ashley has done his best in the last 48 hours to trample all over the hope that still remains of either, with his intention to aim blame everywhere but in his own direction when it comes to the mess at Newcastle United.

The chances of any kind of wholesale change of attitude by Mike Ashley were surely only wishful thinking.

However, there are plenty of instances of managers revolutionising clubs from top to bottom despite less than ideal club owners.

If Rafa Benitez can somehow produce survival in these final eight Premier League matches, then at last we would have somebody in place with the qualities to pull the club into shape – right from the first team down to the academy. An essential for any chance of a positive future, as the club has been failing right through every level – with shocking results for Academy, Reserves and in the Premier League.

All Mike Ashley would then have to do is hand over the Premier League TV deal size budget to Rafa Benitez, sit back and say nothing.

The report on the official Rafa Benitez website:

‘Rafa Benitez visited the Newcastle United Academy this (Tuesday) afternoon to see at first hand the training facilities, meet the staff, including Academy Manager. Joe Joyce, and to see the scholars working out on a typical afternoon at Little Benton.

Rafa and his back room team had a full tour of the Academy, viewing all the internal areas including the class rooms, where the all important education takes place, the fitness and treatment rooms and then the analysis and sports science department where player performance is closely monitored.

It was then outside to the pitches where Academy Coaches Neil Winskill and Liam Bramley were taking a training session with the Under 15s who were on day release programme from school.

Rafa met all the admin staff and also other coaching staff plus the recruitment and education/welfare officers who play such a key role behind the scenes at the Academy.

Joe Joyce commented that all his staff were delighted to meet Rafa and how appreciative they all were that he and his staff had taken the time to come and visit them.’